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How Embracing an Important Market Segment

Mr. Dauner

On Cultural Tourism: How Embracing an Important Market Segment Can Sell More Room Nights

As a hospitality industry professional, you recognize the importance of actively engaging your guests, learning more about what brings them to town and what they are doing in your city once they've checked in. Beyond business travel and family vacations, you've probably noticed that an increasing number of your guests are special interest travelers in pursuit of cultural attractions such as the arts, heritage, and other cultural activities. These individuals - known as "cultural travelers" - collectively make up the rapidly growing and lucrative market segment of cultural tourism.

Cultural tourism is an emerging market that has appeared on the radar screens, and marketing plans, of travel industry suppliers in recent years. The cultural tourism segment is comprised of a select group of travelers who either plan a trip to attend a cultural activity or who actively participate in cultural activities while on a trip, even if they are traveling for other reasons.

Cultural attractions educate, elevate and entertain travelers worldwide. The majority of Americans who take domestic trips say they include cultural, arts, heritage or historic activities on their itineraries. In fact, according to research conducted by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), 81% of U.S. adults who took at least one trip of 50 miles or more - one way - away from home included at least one such activity or event while traveling. This represents 118.1 million adult historic/cultural travelers. More than half of these travelers, approximately 61 million, reported that attending a cultural event of activity was the reason for taking the trip.

Characteristics of the cultural tourist

TIA identifies the cultural tourist as a traveler who loves history and culture and tends to spend more and stay longer than the average tourist. Their research defined some key characteristics that distinguish cultural tourists from other travelers:

More importantly, TIA also found that, in comparison to the average U.S. traveler, cultural tourists:

While this is all fascinating data, what does it mean for the hotel industry? Quite simply it means great economic opportunity as many travelers initiate or extend their trips specifically to participate in cultural events and activities. With 40% of travelers adding extra time to their trips to attend an event, you could be capturing some of these 47 million incremental room nights!

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